Saturday, October 4, 2014


Each of us has loving relatives, quirky cousins and complexities unique to us and our clan.  Adoptive families are the same as all families - yet somehow different.

The adoptive family often finds it necessary to talk t about adoption within or outside of the family. You may be asked questions by family, friends, those involved in your lives as well as strangers. It may be asked for an explanation of why a child and parent do not resemble one another. You will need to decide when to answer, educate or walk away. "Winging it" is not an option. If you are unprepared you may say things you later regret. You need to think through several scenarios and have a plan.

Decades ago, adoptive parents were matched with a child that looked like them and told to not discuss adoption with their child or anyone else. Adoption was kept secret even from the child. Pre-adoptive mothers were advised to stuff pillows under their dresses to appear pregnant. Current practice is to share the adoption with your child as young as possible and add details as they grow. It is also recommended that as the child grows and matures that they decide what information to share with others. There is also a push for more open adoptions, feeling it demystifies where the child came from, why there was an adoption placement and allows for the sharing of information over the years. Openness may mean direct contact of birth and adoptive families or the sharing of information through a third party.

Adoptive children will always have 2 families, even if they have no contact with the birth family. They are children of nature and nurture. They have inherited talents and personality characteristics of birth parents, as well as acquired behaviors, philosophies and mannerisms of adoptive parents.

Some days your child's adoption or your family's adoptive status will be evident. On others, you will be barely aware of it. Regardless, it is always a part of you, your child and your family.

Reaching out to others who share similar experiences is a good way to gain perspective and helpful hints for daily living. There are local adoptive support groups in most communities. Where none exist. there are numerous on-line groups.

No man is an island - No "adoptive family" should stand alone.

Kathy Ann Brodsky, LCSW is a social worker, adoptive mom and advocate for ethical adoption practice. She has prepared thousands of adoption homestudies, counseled adoptive parents and parents-to-be, and has trained professionals to work with adoptive families. She was named an “Angel in Adoption” by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption in 2001 and has a private practice in New York City. She is also Director of the Ametz Adoption Program of JCCA. She can be reached at